>Thailand, Cambodia agree to reduce troops at border temple


BANGKOK, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Thailand and Cambodia on Wednesday agreed to reduce the number of their military personnel guarding the disputed border temple of Ta Moan Thom after a bilateral defense meeting in Thailand’s northeastern province Surin.

The agreement was reached following a meeting between Lt-Gen. Suchit Sitthiprapa, Thailand’s Second Army commander, responsible for security affairs in northeastern Thailand, and Cambodian Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Neang Paht at a hotel in Surin province bordering Cambodia, according to a report by Thai News Agency.

Both sides agreed at the meeting to reduce the number of armed forces personnel guarding the Ta Moan Thom, 13-century Khmer-style temple ruin which is located between Surin’s Phanom Dong Rak district and Cambodian province of Uddor Meanchey.

Thailand and Cambodia also agreed to open the barbed wire installed at the ruin early Thursday so that military and residents of both countries could communicate with each other and visit the temple. Thais will also be allowed to visit another ruin about a km deeper inside Cambodia.

Tensions in the area heightened after Thailand’s Supreme Commander Gen. Boonsang Niempradit, on Aug. 4 asked Cambodia to withdraw its soldiers from the environs of the temple.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman has said the Ta Moan Thom ruin is only one of a number of sites along the yet-to-be-demarcated boundary between the two countries.

Both countries have agreed to hold another meeting next Monday in the Thai central resort town of Hua Hin.

On Monday and Tuesday, foreign ministers from both countries will also hold their second-round talks regarding the long-disputed border area around the Preah Vihear Temple.

The 11th-century Preah Vihear Temple was awarded a World Heritage site honor after the UNESCO last month approved Cambodia’s application, which has sparked nationalist sentiment in Thailand amid its recent domestic political turmoil.

Thai and Cambodian military have beefed up military presence along the disputed border since July 15 after three Thais including a monk was briefly detained by Cambodian soldiers for breaking into the temple, which had been closed for public by Cambodian authorities to public as border tension rose.

Editor: Yan
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